Tortious Interference: “Improper Means”

Tortious interference with business expectancies or contractual relations claims are difficult to make. Tortious interference in Missouri has five elements: (1) the plaintiff was involved in a valid business relationship; (2) the defendant was aware of that relationship; (3) the defendant intentionally interfered with that relationship, inducing its termination; (4) the defendant acted without justification; and (5) the plaintiff suffered damages as a direct result of the defendant’s conduct. Hibbs v. Berger, 430 S.W.3d 296, 318 (Mo. Ct. App. 2014).

“Improper means,” in this context, are wrongful acts “recognized by statute or the common law” that are “independently wrongful,” like violence, trespass, or misrepresentation of fact. Nazeri v. Missouri Valley Coll., 860 S.W.2d 303, 317 (Mo. banc 1993). This typically means “misrepresentation of fact, threats, violence, defamation, trespass, restraint of trade, or any other wrongful act recognized by statute or the common law.” Community Title Co. v. Roosevelt Federal S&L Assoc., 796 S.W.2d 369, 373 (Mo. 1990).

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